Thursday, 8 December 2011

Noothgrush - Erode The Person

As I lower the needle on this record, the world outside my window is chaos.

My little corner of the world is being blasted by winds of up to 130mph (apparently), rivers have burst their banks, the roads are paved with black ice, trees creak, snap, and are uprooted, windows of high-rise buildings shatter and rain glass on the idiotic few who have ventured out in this harsh night.
I have been stuck inside a shell of a factory with no heating for hours, waiting until I can hitch a ride back to my hometown with anyone going even near that direction.
Today has not been a good day.

Arriving home to find the repress of Noothgrush's 'Erode The Person' LP lurking behind my storm doors wasn't so much a pleasant surprise as a fucking necessity. A soundtrack to the foulest of moods on the foulest of days.

So it was with actual NEED to hear something other than a howling gale that I cranked up the volume, collapsed on my floor and let the opening squalls of feedback fill the room.

The feedback lasts mere seconds before Chiyo Nukaga's tumbling, tribal, one-woman-drum-circle kicks in, accompanied by a woozy riff for a couple of bars before the whole thing falls apart with a howl.
Things slow to a neanderthal stomp, the track crashing along haphazardly, held together by one of the most corrosive tones I've heard. It lumbers, the strings bend, tempos shift, and bassist/vocalist Gary rages against "the closed mind of my species".
The tempo lurches up and down, before settling into a doomy plod towards the finish line. The feedback rises and consumes the whole thing once again.

"People are scared, angry, hostile, hate everything, don't know what they hate, don't have anybody else to talk to... just angry, desperate!"

So begins the second track, the 9-minute slog 'Deterioration'. It goes from that sample into one of the doomiest marches I've heard in a while, all spaced-out strings and battered cymbals.

There's enough space in the music to focus on the words, reading along with the lyric sheet as I go, something I NEVER do. Matching these words to this song makes for just about one of the biggest downers you can experience outside of chemical narcotic experimentation.
About halfway through the riff switches up to something a little more light-hearted. Relatively speaking, of course. Oh, spoke too soon, it crashes out into a hungover series of droning, aching picked-out notes.
The last third of the song is almost cheery, with lyrics concerning the extinction of the species as it stands, and 'a rise of altruism and compassion [...] what we know as human will be dead and a superior species will thrive'. Probably the most positive lyrics ever spewed from the gaping maw of doom.

The final track of side A is a Pink Floyd cover. I fucking hate Pink Floyd. I'll give it a shot anyway.
The guitar tone is fuzzed-up and nasty, so it already surpasses anything I've ever heard by the most over-rated band in the world.
This cover is an exercise in minimalism, the drums hitting sparsely but hard, the strings stretching out their contribution to breaking point. I dig this, but it's still never gonna make me reconsider my opinion about the band being covered.

Side B claws it's way out of my speakers with a wretched scrrrape of a song, 'Oil Removed'. Fucking foul. That's a good thing, incase it wasn't obvious. At a running time of three-n-a-half minutes, it's probably the most accessible thing on the whole record. But that's a purely relative term, obviously, it's still a rotting corpse at a beauty pageant compared to other songs of this made-for-radio length.

Final and title track, Erode The Person, is a low and slow beast. Over a minute passes before the other instruments join the bowel-shuddering bass. It's a torturous ten-minute slab of self-loathing, hateful noise, and it's just what I needed to hear tonight. No sarcasm, it really is.
With just a couple of minutes to go, the song momentarily races for the finish line with a downright little boogie of a riff before exhausting itself into an out-of-breath finale.

I mentioned before that I rarely pay attention to the lyrics of most bands operating within the sludge idiom, but this band actually has great mini-essays accompanying each track. These songs, the words, they actual MEAN something. If I knew more about existentialism, environmentalism, gender politics, and the examination of the self in relation to the environment it inhabits, I'd be able to pinpoint their references, but as it stands I'm a fucking philistine, so all I can do is appreciate the themes and words as they are presented here.
This is sludge to get your neurons firing.

I normally don't write this bullshit with the intent to recommend releases, I don't review records so much as simply document my own thoughts on them, giving me a chance to really think about what I'm hearing, but I can wholeheartedly recommend this album. If you're a fan of heavy music with something to say (even if you have to decipher the inhuman screeches with the aid of the record insert), please get a hold of this album as it was originally intended.

I picked this disgusting little beauty up from Portland, Oregon's PARASITIC RECORDS. The guy who runs it was super fast in getting back to me about buying this, and the delivery was fast as fuck too, so support this excellent label/distro by either picking this up, or checking out what else they've got for your listening displeasure.

There aren't many places to hear the almighty Noothgrush online, but they are experiencing something of a resurgence at the moment, with reissues coming out on various labels, a collection of radio sessions or something out on Southern Lord, and an appearance scheduled for next year's Maryland Death Fest.

Now if only they'd get confirmed for Roadburn...